Does Spicy Food Really Burn Fat Faster?

by Marisa Amorasak
04/14/11


You may have heard that old wives tale that spicy food burns fat. Well, that's not exactly true. But spicy food does have significant weight loss abilities. It turns out that food seasoned with chili peppers, cumin, curry, or other spicy ingredients raise your metabolism rate. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories to operate. So while spicy food doesn't burn fat, it does kick-start your body's ability to burn calories faster, resulting in weight loss.

In a recent clinical study, a group of 2,346 overweight people were divided into two groups. One of the groups was given a variety of spices to add to their foods for the next year while their weight was tracked. The spices contained no added salt or sugar and included flavors like cheese, taco, malt, garlic, cocoa, onion, spearmint, spices, horseradish, and strawberry. The other group served as a control group and was not given any seasonings. Both groups were told to maintain their regular diet and exercise habits. A year later, each of the subjects in the group using spices lost over 30 pounds and decreased their BMI by about five pounds. The control group lost only two pounds and had no change in BMI.

Based on the study, it's apparent that spicy food has a positive effect on weight loss. People who eat spicy food regularly reap the metabolism-pumping benefits all the time. But even if you're not a spicy fanatic, you can still use spice to burn calories when you feel like it. Eating a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili can boost your metabolic rate by 23 percent for the next half hour. For a more convenient quick fix, throw a palm full of red pepper flakes in your pasta or soup.

In addition to stimulating your metabolism, spicy food can aid weight loss in other ways. Some experts suggest that since spicy food tends to be flavorful, people eat less of it than non-spicy food. It would be difficult to mindlessly chow down in front of the TV on a plate full of scorching hot peppers. They wouldn't be any more or less filling than other foods, but they may cause people to be more aware of the fact that they're eating, and stop when they are adequately full. Others think that spices can make otherwise bland foods, like vegetables and grains, more appealing so people may eat more of them, leading to a healthier overall diet.

In addition to weight loss, spicy food has a range of other health benefits. The heat from spicy food opens up your sinuses, which can be helpful if you're suffering from an upper respiratory infection. In Thailand, where spicy food is very popular, it's believed that spicy food actually helps keep your body cool. This could be due to the fact that the heat from chili peppers and other spicy foods improves circulation and thins the blood, which is a natural way to keep cool. Very spicy food can also make you sweat, which is the body's natural cooling agent.

Spicy food can also be beneficial to your health in the long run. It helps combat bacteria, reduce inflammation, and can even fight cancerous cells. Peppers contain endorphins, the happy chemical that improves your mood. Chili peppers contain high amounts of Vitamin A and C, while red peppers have lots of beta carotene.

Adding a little kick to your food might also lend a kick to your weight loss, but the best way to lose weight is through an overall healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Toward this end, SignatureForum can connect you directly with a top health club in your area. Or, if you already workout but can't quite eliminate some of your peskier fat deposits, a professional procedure like liposuction or a tummy tuck could help you achieve the look you're after. To learn more about all your weight loss and aesthetic options, contact SignatureForum today!

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